Fascination Amour (1999)
Directed by: Herman Yau
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On his 8th fiancee and on a love cruise on the boat Fascination, rich boy Albert (Andy Lau) is yet again dissatisfied with the girl his staff has presented him with. But the sight of Japanese/Chinese woman Sandy (Ishida Hikari who was an multiple award winner for the Japanese movie Us Two from 1991) stirs something in Albert. However getting her is not easy and her background story for being on the boat leads to Albert joining Sandy for 3 days on land, with only 20 bucks to spend between them...
From yet another busy year for Herman Yau where the term flip-flopped could yet again be easily applied, those that took off was the 3rd entry in the Troublesome Night-series, The Untold Story III and The Masked Prosecutor while one of those that didn't was the Lunar New Year boat romance Fascination Amour. Because when it's pratfall humour, a fair amount of mugging and assorted retarded behaviour on display early, the term flip-flop is also accompanied by a sigh and "uh-oh".
When the pretty boy playboy became a working man, that's the template here and obviously the film is designed as a quick, cheap pleasure vacation for the audience too. It's always fun then to see Herman Yau venture into these light areas as the rumour of being Hong Kong's gore-king (via The Untold Story and Ebola Syndrome) still remains. But the story of Andy Lau's braindead bachelor is fluff at the lower end of the fluff-scale.
Being both arrogant and cocky, with a staff of Yes-sayers, somewhere in there little Albert wants to take part in the simple pleasure of life. But knowing only one thing and having been reliant on his father for such a long time, it's no wonder he's a bit of a dick. 7 potential fiances's turned away, maybe now the trip on the boat Fascination will turn things around? OF COURSE it will, thanks to a strong-willed lady that isn't easily hooked by Albert's wealth. In fact, she has wealth to spare but it's depleting, much to her own pleasure as she can easily adapt to a simple life. So as Albert tries to prove he's not just after getting into her pants, he takes the challenge and the rest you can figure out for yourself.
No huge meaning, no depth and with a decent little message about letting relationships develop naturally rather than being set-up (Qu Ying's Kathy, the 8th fiancee, represents this idea as she meets a fellow Mainlander on board), in a way there's even a little audience participation created by Yau as we do react towards dickish behaviour/frustration courtesy of Albert but also buy the journey he takes. Buy in the sense that we finish the film, recognize it for the cheap one that it is and that the leads displays decent chemistry when on their own for a reel or two.
But indeed, Fascination Amour is for viewers who doesn't want to take the trek there but instead the quick and ready injection. Oh well, despite only logging about three laughs and little memorable in the way of romance, Yau gives us some highlights. Anthony Wong is wonderfully silly as one of the assistants to Albert while Raymond Wong and Christine Ng plays a borderline retarded couple that reenacts scenes from Titanic. And speaking of the boat, it's obviously a bitchin' piece of ready-made production design yet Yau manages to make the movie look at its dullest whenever shooting on board. Plus, he plants himself in some weird middle ground when employing drama that neither registers as funny or touching but just unfocused and odd. And yes, this rom/com is an montage-fest accompanied by Andy Lau songs so calculated entertainment below any respectful line it definitely is. An easy ride for the makers, an easy ride for the viewers. The biggest boat in the world can't make that fact positive one.
Garry's Trading Co. presents the film in an aspect ratio of 1.72:1, approximately. Free from damage but its cinema print source makes the low-budget disc present a transfer that is soft, slightly muddled and only watchable for the cheap price.
The Cantonese (with some usage of Mandarin and English) Dolby Digital 2.0 track sounds clear and comes with no distractions. A Mandarin Dolby Digital 2.0 option is also available.
The imbedded Chinese/English subtitles are free from spelling- and grammar errors for the most part. Thus coherent. There are no extras.
reviewed by Kenneth Brorsson